By Ed Grabianowski
A team of students from Houston's Rice University are a virtual lock for a Nobel Prize with their latest research. They've bioengineered a beer that has anticancer properties. Each sip of their new brew contains resveratrol, the chemical found in wine and believed to be responsible for reduced cancer rates in lab tests. How long before you can find Resveratrol IPA on store shelves?
The BioBeer project will be entered into the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition to be held next month. Each team uses BioBricks, which are basically DNA toolkits, to create new lifeforms that do interesting things. Although the definition of "interesting" seems rather loose - past entrants included bacteria that smell different depending on whether they're growing or not.
The Rice team, several members of which are not old enough to drink, has genetically engineered a yeast so it will produce resveratrol in a two-step process (one gene produces some stuff, another gene makes the stuff into resveratrol). They haven't actually brewed any yet, and there are a whole lot of steps in between now and the day you can toss back a frosty mug of Cancer Destroyer Porter, but at least the team isn't creating something that could wipe out humanity. According the Rice press release:
Their entry last year, a bacterial virus that fought antibiotic resistance, was well-received but finished out of the prize running.